There’s meaning in street art

Graffiti art has been a staple of the modern art world for some time. In re-evaluating these often illegal works, artistic integrity is often embedded within.

Love it or hate it, what can make graffiti art so compelling is the fact that a real person, one with a distinct vision and intent, stole out in the wee hours of the night, evading police and security guards, to create a work very few will understand, but many will see.

Though at its core it’s another study of graffiti art, what makes Bay Area photographer Robert Dufort’s newest exhibition, “The Signs Are All Around You” at the In Color 2 gallery through June 2, is the accidental quality in each work.

For three years, Dufort has shot scenes of familiar makeshift plywood walls characteristic of nearly every construction site, the ones that typically are plastered with posters, handbills, and advertisements promoting album releases and cell phone plans.

Primarily shot in San Francisco, mostly south of Market, Dufort’s raw footage (his images are printed from the negative without any digital manipulation) expertly captures familiar yet overlooked scenery.

But he does so with the request that his audience recognize the collaborative spirit pulsating through each image.

“No one person created this image I’m taking a picture of. It’s something 30 to 40 have taken a part in … unintentionally, yet each one makes a statement,” Dufort says.

In an even more challenging request, he asks the viewer to see his works from a collage art standpoint that shows how each work is the sum of its parts. He doesn’t want the viewer to focus on individual parts.

With Dufort’s work, one gets past analyzing the potpourri of old-fashioned tagging and abandoned promotional materials. For example, in “And Fly From Evil,” an image emerges that is, oddly enough, reminiscent of the softness from a Victorian parlor.

“I’m not interested in graffiti per se. I’m not interested in what each individual image is saying, but what is going on with this as a collage. Some of it gets ripped off, some of it gets torn off, weathered off,” Dufort says. “I’m not documenting. Certainly each photo is a document, but that’s not the purpose.”

The Signs Are All Around You

Where: In Color 2, 2475 Third St., Suite 251, San Francisco

When: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays (closed from 1 to 2 p.m.); through June 2

Contact: (415) 861-3997

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